As a child,
giving up parts of myself
was thrilling —
I never mourned the loss of
the training wheels on my bike;
there was no funeral for
my baby teeth;
when I graduated from
picture books to chapter books
no tears were shed.
I carefully assembled
a new identity
block by block;
rebranded myself into
some pretentious avatar of cool
built upon a foundation of
likes and dislikes —
this band and that author;
this videogame and that TV show;
this director and that artist;
this top-shelf liquor and that five-star restaurant;
this strain of weed and that brand of beer. …
“Row, row, row your boat,
gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
life is but a dream.”
It almost destroyed my life before I threw it up into a bucket. And then, just like that, it was gone. The depression that had controlled me for nearly 20 years, the demon convincing me that I had no intrinsic worth as a person, banished. Exorcized — literally.
My slow-motion suicide was halted.
I smiled to myself there in the jungle, listening to the nocturnal symphony of monkeys and insects and who knows what else. I curled into a fetal position on my mat, careful not to kick over my purge bucket, and rested in utter contentment — a deep peace unlike anything I’d ever known. …
I want to play cards
with that stranger on the bus —
the man with a worn out face,
in a wrinkled suit,
staring out the window;
I want to greet him
like we’re long lost friends,
and find out the worst thing
that ever happened to him.
I want to swing in a hammock
with that woman in the grocery store —
the anxious one standing in line
with maroon manicured nails;
she’s browsing celebrity magazines,
and I want to know what she’s
trying to distract herself from,
to learn what gets her
out of bed in the morning.
I want to grab a drink
with that old bum with no teeth —
he’s spitting obscenities into the sky;
I want to ask him to tell me
about the best day he ever had,
about everything that led to this moment. …
Don takes a swig of rum and surveys his creation. He calls it the Eagle’s Nest — outfitted with state-of-the-art surveillance technology. From this central location he can monitor every nook and cranny of his coveted 10,000 square feet and surrounding 200 acres.
The high-end Knight Security system set him back a cool $500,000. Biometric checkpoints (iris, voice, thumbprint scanning), pressure mats, driveway and seismic sensors, wireless night-vision cameras, window screens that scream when cut, and a dozen remote-controlled XM8 assault rifles. …
Sometimes it hits me like a panic,
grips me by the throat,
sits heavy on my chest.
I want to go screaming down every street
like a madman or Paul Revere.
I want to shake every last person awake
no matter how far gone
Can you hear it?
The music of our aging generation?
Can you feel the futility of our scramble
toward secure retirement?
How many years will we spend lost
concocting master plans we never act upon? …
We feast on the young
We idolize their beauty
We study their trends for profit
Enriching ourselves from their cool
But let them remember their place
Should they ever speak up
We will remind them
Their only value
Is in their superficiality
And should they get any high minded
About what the dinosaurs are doing wrong
We will remind them
They are still children
With the derision of our insults
With the stomp of our boot heels
With our sting of our pepper spray
With the solitude of our jail cells
We will say:
What do you know?
Shut up and look pretty
Make your music
Log onto our social networks
Create your fashion statements
But whatever you do
Never claim your personhood
Or we’ll wash your mouths out with soap
This piece is an excerpt from a larger memoir project that deals with toxic masculinity called, Cleft
There’s this predictable thing men do when they work together. Get a bunch of guys trapped someplace for a few hours, and spare time is filled with tales of sexual conquests, boasting of genital accomplishments, expressions of desire to plop a penis into any passing orifice. Imaginations run rampant, concocting theories about who looks like what naked and who would get some girl off harder than anyone else. Who’s the biggest stud in bed.
Maybe you’re a guy working food service, and someone obviously too young for you to think about fucking walks by the counter, and your male coworker says, “Man, I bet she has a tight pussy — I don’t even know if I could fit my dick in there. Look at that skirt. I bet she’s a little slut. …